Sunday, September 02, 2012
Since I'm having so much trouble visualizing my 40 pound weight loss, I spent some time taking pictures of myself. I have some "before" shots of me near my all-time high weight. I still have the swimsuit I took that picture in so I put it on for my "during" shot. Yes, in the picture I can see the difference.
Saturday, September 01, 2012
When I took an eight-week course on weight loss, our instructor advised us to face our fears. Mine is running. Not because of any prior injuries, but because I suck at it. When I run, I don't feel light and graceful. I feel like I'm trudging along in quicksand, wishing, hoping, waiting on the run to be over. My family used to tell me I didn't run I "lumbered." Isn't that an awful word? LUMBER? It sounds like something an elephant does when it's in a hurry.
I envy people who can run. I do. Because in high school, I was the one who was left in the dust when the gym class had to run laps. In college, during a fitness test, I was THE slowest runner in the group. I was SO slow, that my best friend at the time finished his two miles, ran back, and finished the run with me.
So given ALL of this baggage I have, is it any wonder that I never thought of myself as a runner? Why I deplored the activity and hated the arrogance of runners who can't relate to people like me? But when I visualize myself at my goal weight, there is always one thing that I am doing. I'm running like a gazelle, wearing black athletic shorts and a light blue fitted v-neck cap sleeve shirt.
When our instructor challenged me to sign up for a 5k and do a couch to 5k to train for it, I balked. He wasn't having it. He told me "Sign up for one first. Train later." The words still haunt me because I haven't done it. I haven't signed up for a thing because I've only run 5K on my own once as a teenager. Plus, my old fears returned, "I'll be left in the dust. I'll be miserable. I'll hate the experience." The course has been over for two weeks and my instructor continues to send information to our class about upcoming 5Ks.
The only way to combat my fears is to face them, right? So yesterday morning, I woke up with the intention of running 5K. I've been jogging 10-15 minutes on the treadmill. Can I run longer than that? How far can I go? So, using the SP app, I mapped out a rectangular-shaped 5K in my neighborhood, grabbed my ipod, stretched my legs, then headed for the door. I decided that I was only going to jog until I was out of breath. I expected to last my usual 10-15 minutes. But I kept giving myself new goals, e.g. "Just jog until you get to that traffic light, then you can walk." or "Jog until you reach that blue house." When I felt my breath leaving me, I slowed down to something I can only describe as a walk-jog and let my arms flap down around my sides. Suddenly, I realized, I was 3/4 done. If I made it this far, then I should finish, right? So I kept on and FINISHED the course. I had not run 5K since I was eighteen. Now, I'm almost 47 and I did it!!
I can't TELL you how proud I am. I still haven't signed up for a 5K, because it took me 50 minutes to run this course. I still fear being left in the dust. But maybe, just maybe if I run it again. And again. And again, I'll pick up speed.
For the first time in a long time, I am in awe of what the human body can do. Last year at this time, I couldn't climb two flights of stairs without feeling winded. Now, I'm playing softball, hiking and I just jogged 5K. It's a mental breakthrough for me because it helps me understand that I need to quick talking myself out of doing things and just go do them.
Onward and downward.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Every day, when each of us looks in the mirror, we all have this image of ourselves staring back. By now, most of us understand that sometimes our perception of what we look like can be distorted.
Body dysmorphic disorder and anorexia are two extreme examples of what happens when our perceptions are distorted. The late Michael Jackson always thought his nose was too big for his face. No matter how much surgery he had, his perception of what he saw never changed so no surgical procedure ever satisfied him. Karen Carpenter, another talented musician, suffered from anorexia so badly she literally starved herself to death.
Okay, Mike and Karen are extreme examples, but are we all really THAT different? What do YOU see when you look in the mirror?
For me, the image I have of myself never changes. It is the same whether I'm at a normal weight or obese. My image is of a slightly overweight woman. So you can imagine how easy it is to pile on nearly 70 extra pounds when you look in the mirror and see someone who's "not that big." It's a case of complete denial about a growing problem, pun intended! That's why I was so shocked to see the "before" picture I posted on my SP page. I never thought of myself as particularly "big". If my pants got tight, it was because they shrank in the wash. If I had to buy a larger size, it's because the clothing label ran small. The thickening around my middle? Well, that's what happens when you reach middle age.
Now, I'm 44 pounds lighter but the problem is, I don't always see it. So I take pictures, try on clothes in different sizes, weigh, measure body parts---all in an effort to get my brain caught up with my body. Intellectually, I understand that this can be problematic. Losing and maintaining weight is work so if I'm not rewarded when I look in the mirror, well, maybe I'm just meant to be heavy. Next thing you know I'm backsliding.
You would think that staying motivated when I've lost 2/3 of my extra weight is easy. Not really, it's still a daily struggle. My habits are new. Eight months of healthy habits versus 20 years of couch potatohood. It gets easier with time to make my morning smoothie, pack my gym bag and lunch and ignore the treats in the office. But the potential for backsliding remains--especially if it's hard to tell by looking in the mirror. Experts say it takes time for the brain to catch up and I totally agree.
Yeah, I know, I know---it's not only about looks. True, I have more energy. I'm healthier. I can shop anywhere. Believe me, I'm GLAD to have all of those non-scale rewards--especially my health. But emotionally, I still embrace the teenaged ideal of looking good in a pair of jeans.
To add insult to injury, we live in a culture heavily influenced by Madison Avenue's idea of beauty and are constantly subjected to a barrage of messages like:
"Our boutique's full-figured attire goes from size 10 to 14. If you are larger, you'll need to shop online"
"At 5'10" and 110 pounds, she's our ideal model"
"36-24-36--owww, what a winnin' hand"
"When you stand with your feet together, there should be a space between your thighs"
So we cope with the din of societal messages by creating our own affirmations:
"Real Women have curves"
"Don't no one want a bone but a dog"
"She's not fat, she's phat"
"I like big butts and I cannot lie"
"More bounce to the ounce"
Oh, the war of words goes on and on and when you're a woman of any race, the chatter is exhausting. In my case, my BMI is 27.8 and I am still 23 pounds from goal. I'm now hearing from friends and family that I don't need to lose any more weight. Are you serious? I finally got hip to how my weight was affecting my health and you say I should stay heavy? What's up with that?
Bottom line is, I want to be healthy AND I want to look my best. No, I don't want to be skinny, but I'm tired of seeing that slightly overweight woman in the mirror. I am so over her. I visualize looking in the mirror and seeing a new, vibrant, healthy and happy woman of a normal weight. I want to give myself time for this new image to register, so my brain and body will follow. So I keep pushing forward and work hard to visualize the new me.
Onward and downward.
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